Music On The Goe

David Goe on music

Follow David's weekly Out & About column ON THE GOE
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It’s Bronco Country’s Party and We’re Just Lucky To Be Invited

By David Goe
Friday, August 19, 2016

For one night back in November, all was right in the world. The small side of Sabrosa was stacked five deep at the bar with freaks and geeks getting loose, alternating between bottles of Sessions Premium Lager and shots of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.

Waves of Grand Junction’s bored and disenfranchised youth crashed through the front door, packing the bar right to the point of being uncomfortable. Standing room only doesn’t begin to explain the density of the situation. Stuffed in shoulder-to-shoulder with amped-up 20-and 30-somethings usually presents a number of obvious problems. That Saturday night, though, was magic. No fights, no problems, just a room buzzing with anticipation. Soon the band that inspired more passion and local enthusiasm than anyone was about to cut it up.

Body odor, stale booze, and cigarette smoke wafted through the air, mixing with mic checks and snare hits coming from the back of the room. Craning necks turned, trying to get a glimpse of the source of the sound and gage how far away they were from showtime.

It would still be a while. Barely visible under the yellow glow of Sabrosa’s track lighting the four groups of musicians, Homebody, American Culture, New York City Cops and Bronco Country were milling around, doing whatever bands do before shows.

As the bass player for New York City Cops, there was really nothing for me to do besides tune my guitar and let the real primadonnas — the drummers and guitar players — fiddle with their cymbals and pedal boards. We played last that night so I hit the bar for a quick drink before ducking into the back alley to chill out before things got out of control.

From the alley I could eventually hear the crowd yelling “hot dog!” That meant it was time to get back inside. For unknown reasons, that chant had become the rally cry for Bronco Country. It meant they were on stage and about to start playing.

I squeezed in a couple rows back from the front — close enough to be in the action but far enough away to bolt when the mosh inevitably got too rowdy. As Bronco Country went through their final soundcheck I overheard two crusty gutter punks talking about the band most people came to see.

“Have you ever seen Bronco Country?”

“No. I can’t wait! I’ve heard they’re crazy.”

“Man, Bronco Country is the best thing that’s ever happened to Grand Junction.”

That statement is more accurate than you might think. Since that last Bronco Country show, one that nearly broke the Fifth Street dive bar, Grand Junction’s music scene has been lackluster to say the least. Without a proper punk band to stand up and kick the teeth out of a community completely stuck in place, there’s been little musical action to be truly excited about.

That changes next week.

After almost a year off, Bronco Country is back for one more show. Playing a huge bill on Friday, Aug. 26, with Zolopht, Mount Orchid, Johnson County Corners, Ryan Harrison and Shawn Ray at Barons Grill, this is a rare chance to feel alive and excited in Grand Junction.

Front man Matt Zurek, guitarist Griff Chiono, bassist Colin Keefe, and drummer Austin Martinez combine to make Bronco Country the raddest band Junction has ever known. If you talk to them they will probably downplay their relevance, but the way Grand Junction connects to this band emotionally, like they did on that night in November, and like they will at Barons, is special.

At the end of Bronco Country’s most riotous song, the one that really drives crowds nuts, “The Fuzz,” Zurek sings “we’re just having fun/ having some beers/ what’s the big deal?”

The big deal is, this is Bronco Country’s party and we’re just lucky to be on the guest list. 

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Locals Rally Around Zolopht

By David Goe
Friday, August 12, 2016

Local benefit helps raise over $4,000 for Zolopht. 

 

If there is one truth about being part of a music community, it’s that musicians take care of each other.

There’s an unwritten code musicians abide by. For example, if someone needs a PA system for a show and you happen to have one available, you let them borrow it. If you are playing a show and someone needs a guitar cable, you let them borrow one.

Simple things like this happen in all music communities. Here in Grand Junction, though, our community has raised the bar of support.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about what happened to local band Zolopht. Having had over $20,000 worth of music equipment stolen in Houston during the homestretch of their last tour, Zolopht found themselves in a tough spot. How do you continue on as a band when you’ve literally lost everything?

Thankfully for Zolopht, Grand Junction came together to help make things right.

Local radio DJ for Drive 105 and host of the Local Legends show Dustin Coren played a big role, helping to organize multiple fundraisers that brought 20 businesses and 11 local bands to the table to raise money for the band.

Greg Hartman, operator of the Grand Valley Live music blog, donated proceeds from his first local music compilation, “Grand Valley Music Volume 1,” to Zolopht.

Sabrosa and Roasted opened up their venues for an all-day benefit concert and silent auction, again with event proceeds going to Zolopht.

All in all, over $4,000 was raised over the weekend at the “Save Our Zolopht” benefit concert, and approximately $7,500 was raised pre-show through direct donations.

The generosity of these individuals, business and many more unnamed individuals is staggering. Unfortunately it’s not an uncommon occurrence for bands to have their gear stolen while on tour. The way our local community responded is, however, absolutely unique and quite shocking.

If this were to happen to a touring band from a metropolitan area, do you think they’d be as lucky as Zolopht? Absolutely not. Most bands in similar situations would be left begging for help on online fundraising sites.

Not our Zolopht. Not in Grand Junction. This spirit of collaboration and cooperation amongst our music community is special.

If you look closely around the valley, that spirit lives on in places like the Electric Ballroom, a multi-use rehearsal space and art studio for local bands and artists. It lives on the 970West Studio at Mesa County Libraries which provides space and equipment for audio and digital production.

You can watch that sense of community take place in real time at the new Wednesday Open Mic night at the Rockslide.

This Open Mic is a joint effort between musicians Lloyd Anthony and Gabe Smith, and videographer Nick Moore. Anthony hosts the event, Smith runs sound and records audio, and Moore documents the whole event through video and photo, and posts content to social media. It’s a collaborative effort, which aims to bring musicians together and highlight the area’s talent.

Just last Wednesday I watched four individual musicians from Grand Junction and Montrose play 15-minute sets. A couple touring bands also stopped in to play a quick set before heading off to the Underground Music Showcase in Denver. I also chatted with a number of drummers, guitarists, and singers about upcoming projects and, of course, what was happing with Zolopht.

Local bands form and dissolve. Great venues come and go. What will always remain, though, is the bond between musicians and the overwhelming support they share for one another. In an area so economically and socially distressed as ours, this is one thing Grand Junction can be proud of. 

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Musician Deaths Remind Us To Enjoy Those We Have

By David Goe
Friday, August 12, 2016

David Bowie is just one of many legendary musicians that have passed in 2016.

 

Every time a musician who has impacted our life passes away we react basically the same way. First there is shock and disbelief. Shortly after come the acceptance and sadness stages, followed by celebration of their work, and, finally, curiosity over what they’ve left behind.

Take the case of Prince. Since the world found out he had passed away we went from laying flowers outside his Paisley Park studio, to watching “Purple Rain” on an endless 24-hour loop, to celebrating his career by buying out his entire back catalog of music. Once the celebratory phase passed and we burnt through “When Doves Cry” one too many times, our curiosity started to get the best of us.

“How did he die?”

“Who gets all his money?”

“What’s in his secret vault?”

Ah, yes, Prince’s secret vault of unreleased music, a vault so full it could produce new albums for the next 100 years. Like so many other musicians that have left us too early, that last question is the most tantalizing to answer.

There is an undeniable craving for any fan to bend an ear to those elusive unreleased songs. Surely someone as prolific as Prince has a back catalog of music loaded with hits just as good as “1999,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Kiss.” At least that’s the lie we sell ourselves even though we know that’s not the case.

There is a reason that Prince did not release that music. It’s not up to the impossibly high standards Prince set for himself. Sure, there are probably some decent songs in there, but they were likely more ideas for songs than polished singles.

Inevitably these legendary troves of unheard music let us down, but it doesn’t stop our curiosity. Music fans everywhere would kill to hear unreleased Jimi Hendrix, Tupac, and Nirvana recordings just in case there is a “Purple Haze,” “California Love,” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in the bunch.

While it is fun to speculate, we will likely never know for sure what those catalogs hold, as most of that material will never see the light of day due to family members and record labels squabbling over controlling rights in whichever legal court will hear their case. Prince’s catalog in particular seems destined to never see the light of day. With no will and no clear heir to his estate, don’t expect his vault to crack anytime soon.

Usually if unreleased material makes its way to the public, it does so by happy accident. For example, just last year a lost arrangement by Mozart surfaced in the Czech Museum of Music and a score by Igor Stravinsky was discovered amongst a pile of untouched manuscripts in a storage area of the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

Similarly, a new double album from jazz legend Charlie Parker is set for release on Verve after being hidden away for nearly 65 years. The album, “Unheard Bird,” included 58 previously unknown takes recorded in the late 1940s and early 1950s. How someone could lose such a substantial hoard of music recorded during the heyday of one of jazz’s most brilliant performers is beyond me, yet here it is, newly discovered and finally ready for consumption.

While these types of discoveries rarely lead to historically significant treasures or change our opinions of the musicians who recorded them, they do give us, if only for a moment, the chance to reconnect with someone vastly important to our lives.

This year has been incredibly unkind to musicians, as we’ve already lost icons like David Bowie, George Martin, Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, Glenn Frey, Lemmy Kilmister, and Natalie Cole.

It’s true that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, so if anything don’t take for granted the work of the few true music icons we have left. Don’t lose them to time like we’ve already lost so many.  

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The Beat is Strong With Electronic Music

By David Goe
Friday, August 12, 2016

DJ Chris Epic has been performing since the early 2000s.  

 

In a recent interview with Billboard magazine, Diplo, the renowned solo DJ and performer with Major Lazer and Jack U, and producer for acts such as Beyonce and Justin Bieber, had some unkind words for the state of electronic dance music.

“It’s a sinking ship. It’s a really lame culture. I’m sad that I’m part of it, but I play the game.”

For a genre that has dominated pop music over the past decade and grown into a multi-billion dollar industry, to have the Billboard Dance Artist of the Year and one of its biggest stars say that EDM is on its way out is noteworthy.

“The DJ world is the corniest (expletive) group of people. We’re not celebrities, we’re not famous for any good reason. We’re just really lame,” Diplo said.

Diplo’s “lame culture” comments mirror criticism by others for the EDM genre: It’s cookie cutter music that lacks creativity and individuality. It is easily made, meaning anyone can do it, and those who do are talentless producers in it for the wrong reasons (money and fame).

To be fair, those blanket statements could be applied to any genre of popular music. For example, hip-hop, grunge and boy-band groups all took turns being the “in” sound, just like EDM is now, and each one received a fair amount of criticism during the height of its popularity.

The timing of Diplo’s comments also is interesting. Just last weekend the Electronic Daisy Festival in Las Vegas celebrated its 20th anniversary with over 400,000 EDM fans in attendance. The biggest rave in North America shows no signs of going down, and in fact, seems to be sailing on stronger than ever. This year’s lineup again featured the biggest acts in the world such as Tiesto, Zedd, DJ Snake and Martin Garrix, and with general admission tickets topping out at more than $400, fans are still paying big bucks to see DJs perform.

So what exactly is the state of dance music in America? Is the EDM bubble about to burst like Diplo says, or is the industry as strong as ever?

To gain some perspective, I reached out to our local DJ community, which seems to be plugging along as well as ever.

Chris Lawrence, who performs as Chris Epic, has been involved in the Grand Junction dance scene as long as anyone. Starting out in 2000 spinning vinyl sets, Epic has seen genres move in and out of fashion. Grand Junction’s dance scene has evolved from trance and house raves in the early 2000s to what Epic calls a “dirty bass haven” today.

“While I can’t relate to EDM today, I respect it has its own identity, it’s far removed from the tradition I came” from, Epic said. “I think Grand Junction DJs are going in the right direction here by being more eclectic and incorporating multiple genres.”

Josh Beckner, who DJs in the duo Gargantuain’t with Cole Wilkinson, doesn’t see any bust in sight, and actually expects the opposite.

“I would describe the state currently with a single word: potential. Electronic music is huge in the U.S. right now, and with the college growing, there’s definitely a market. I think that because this scene is not established, there is a lot of opportunity and options, which is cool.”

Many other local DJs echoed Beckner’s optimistic thoughts about the future of EDM.

Is EDM about to burst? I don’t think so. Maybe what Diplo is worried about is a culture that is become a parody of itself. Some elements of EDM culture are admittedly ridiculous (the fashion and drug culture immediately come to mind), but it is clear that dance and EDM culture hits home both nationwide and in Grand Junction.

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What Does the Future of Streaming Music Look Like?

By David Goe
Friday, June 10, 2016


Roy LaManna, the CEO and founder of Vydia.com, a new online platform that helps musicians of all levels create, monetize and distribute their video content.

 

Have music and technology finally figured out how to get along? Possibly.

Access to high quality streaming music services, access to cheaper tech devices such as smartphones and affordable access to high speed internet have all contributed to the rise of streaming music, now the fastest growing revenue source for the music industry.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, 2015 was the first time that streaming music content was the largest revenue source for the recorded music industry.

Comprising nearly 35 percent sales, streaming music through sites such as Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music accounted for more than $2 billion in revenue.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry similarly reported that globally, revenue from streaming music was up 45 percent in 2016.

As the momentum for streaming music grows, it is clear that going forward consumers will have little choice but to get their music digitally from streaming music sites. Musicians also will need to figure out how to maximize their exposure on streaming music sites if they want to be successful.

In April, I wrote about the strengths and weaknesses of various streaming music sites, however the future of streaming music is much more complex than settling on a subscription plan.

Bigger questions still need to be answered. How does technology dictate the way we consume music? Are music downloads now passé? What will the future of streaming music look like for musicians and consumers?

So I reached out to Roy LaManna, the CEO and founder of Vydia.com, a new online platform that helps musicians of all levels create, monetize and distribute their video content.

Vydia currently represents more than 100,000 artists and focuses primarily on promoting video content through popular music discovery sites such as Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook.

LaManna also is the former music video commissioner for Island Def Jam Music Group and over his 15 years in the entertainment industry has worked with performers ranging from Justin Bieber to Ludacris.

To help understand what the future of streaming music will look like both for musicians and consumers, LaManna answered a series of questions.

Goe: As the major streaming sites continue their arms race to lock in exclusive rights to major artist’s catalogs, how will streaming work for the consumer in the next couple years? It looks like consumers may be forced into subscribing to multiple outlets just to listen to music. Is that the best model or are we seeing another example of the music industry failing to take into account the end consumer, again?

LaManna: I think this is an example of the music industry failing to take into account the end user. The reason being is that you’ll find people are going to subscribe to the service they feel has the best user experience and if the content they want is not available, you’re going to find that they’re just going to get it illegally. I don’t think people want to have multiple subscription services.

Goe: How do independent artists fit into the streaming system? If steaming sites are paying on a per stream basis, that model seems to heavily benefit major musicians. Independent artists on the other hand, artists who don’t have the additional revenue streams of a major musician and rely on sales, seem to lose out in that scenario. What can independents do to make sure their voice isn’t lost?

LaManna: Independent organizations, they’ll band together. If you go through an aggregator, even a company like ours, you could have a bigger voice by banding together a bunch of independent artists. That’s what other companies like Merlin and organizations like ATYM do. They essentially try to give a voice to the independents by grouping together and organizing in that fashion.

The biggest place where independent artists get hurt is when the payouts are not a per stream basis, but are calculated on a market shared basis, which means that the amount of streams are sometimes calculated not by the amount of streams you get on that service, but the amount of exposure you get on, as silly as it sounds, things like radio airplay, sales, downloads, etc ...

Goe: In order for the streaming system to really take off, the American data system needs to keep pace with technology. For example, there are parts of America that still do not have quality access to high speed internet, let alone fiber broadband speeds. This means that Tidal’s hifi service is not accessible for at least a quarter of American citizens. How does access to affordable high speed internet affect what these streaming companies plan to do in the future? Do our own data networks limit the growth of this new service?

LaManna: Google is coming out with their Fiber network and I think people are going to get access to the internet over time. Even in third world countries, companies like Facebook have their Internet.org initiative. While that isn’t true internet, a lot of it’s just access to Facebook, I think you’ll find that people will start finding and discovering their music on Facebook. This is why international countries discover a lot of music on YouTube, because that’s what is available to them.

For a complete interview transcript see below. 

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